Pogo Punk

What is Pogo Punk?

Pogo Punk is a subgenre that exists within the wide umbrella of Street Punk and Oi!, originally coined and popularized by bands from Japan in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Tokyo based label Pogo 77, founded by Noriyasu Imamura—who also plays in the bands Tom & Boots Boys, Asuka And The Bum Servants, and Punk And Disorderly—has a major influence for establishing the Pogo Punk scene in Japan. The name of the style comes from the pogo dancing, associated with punk music from as early as 1976.

Tokyo punks, 📸 Chris Low

Musically, Pogo Punk derives its tropes from the classic UK82, Oi!, and Street Punk scenes. The music is usually fast, catchy and upbeat with snotty vocals as opposed to the harsh or growly vocals of both UK82 and the typical street punk genre. The style also heavily relies on anthemic gang vocals and choruses reminiscent to drunk football fans singing in the British pubs.

Most Pogo Punk bands also emphasize on their working class background. The anger, depression and “No Future” attitude of British punk are often replaced with positive mood in songs about drinking, having fun and partying after a hard week of work. Other themes include unity between punks and (non-racist) skinheads (think of slogans like “Punx & Skins United”), and being proud with living the punk lifestyle.

Although the style emerged in Japan, the first wave of Japanese Pogo Punk bands were heavily influenced by earlier Western bands like GBH, Skeptix, and The Ejected from the UK, Funeral Dress (Belgium), Antidote (Netherlands), German bands like Pestpocken, Oxymoron, SS-Kaliert, and the US scene with (the early) Casualties, Blanks 77, Clit 45, The Virus, Lower Class Brats, Cheap Sex, Devotchkas, and others.

Japanese punks Kentaro (The Erections) and Asuka (Asuka And The Bum Servants)

Pogo Punk Bands

First Wave Pogo Punk: The Discocks, Tom & Boot Boys, Asuka And The Bum Servants, The Erections, The Couch, OO Squad, Spiky Brats, Pogo Machines, Shit-Faced, Hat Trickers, Boobs Shit, 4Spikes, The Injections, Drunk Boi!s, Beer Belly, Spiky Joys, Oi!Driver, SquelchPunx, etc.

Second Wave Pogo Punk: Who Killed Spikey Jacket?, Punx Attack, Bad English, Rejected Scums, The Wasted, The Chernobyl Babies, Rotten Boi!s, Soapcharge, The Wheelz, Pig Food, Clockwork Droogs, and more.

Note that not all of these bands are Japanese but the Pogo Punk became a worldwide phenomenon in the 2000s.

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